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How to find the right tattoo artist

So what qualifies me to write about this? I have 18 tattoos from over 10 different artists; which means I could be called a tattoo collector. I have travelled around the country to get the specific artist I want because I have researched the style and then found an artist within that style that matches the atheistic I have in my mind, making sure I get the best tattoo for me.  

What style do you want?

There are lots of style of tattoo out there but these are the main categories

·         Traditional – Solid black outlines, a limited colour palette and less detail, this covers things like roses, hearts, nautical, eagles, skulls, daggers and women's heads.
·         Realism – this is for tattoos that look exactly like it would in the real world, think portraits.
·         Watercolour – this is for tattoos that don’t necessarily have outlines instead uses splashes and streaks of colour to give the impression of paint being used on canvas or paper.
·         Tribal - Nearly always black in colour, often using symmetry and geometrical design.
·         New School - Cartoon-like designs influenced by graffiti and hip-hop artistic techniques and styles
·         Neo Traditional - use bold outlines and careful, precise shading.
·         Japanese - Imagery includes cherry blossoms, koi fish, lotus flowers, dragons, war dogs and geishas.
·         Dotwork - Intricate designs that use lots of tiny dots.

sam whitehead my little pony tattoo
By Sam Whitehead, who is based in Leeds 
Different tattooers specialise in different tattoo styles. Decide on what you want and then find an artist who tattoos in that way. It sounds easy but this is actually the hardest part and where you really should focus your efforts. Doing the research will pay off when you get the tattoo of your dreams.

Finding an artist

To me Instagram has revolutionised the finding of tattoo artist as a whole world of tattooist is now available at your fingertips.  Explore artists on Instagram using hashtags or look for the title in their bio and find someone whose work you really love. Some hashtags I would recommend #tattooersofinstagram #uktattoo #uktta #tattooworkers

Personally, I like getting tattooed by female artists, I don’t really know why, I just like supporting female artists (there are many amazing male artists out there) so some hashtags I also search are #ladytattooers

If you need some inspiration for the styles there are some great Instagram accounts that post all types of work, Tattoo Snob is a global account, UKTTA is a UK based account. These accounts can also help you find a specific artist in the style you want.

Once you have found an artist you love, give them a follow, not only will in brightening your feed, but they will often advertise pieces they have already drawn up, if you are unsure of what you want but you love their work, this is a great way of getting something. They might also run competitions and let you know where they are going to be (more on this later) .

 These two tattoos were pre-drawn tattoos that were being advertised
Paula Castle Reindeer Tattoo
By Paula Castle, who is based in Swansea 

Monica Misery My Little Pony Tattoo
By Monica, who is based in Wolverhampton 
Pinterest can also be a good source of inspiration for style, but it is less likely you will be able to find the actual artist. But note that pinterest will be full of ‘trendy’ tattoos that are the current fad.

Ask other artists

When I was initially looking at getting my Charlie tattoo I approached Paula, but she was honest with me and said the image I sent her didn’t really match her style, however she suggested Hollie, who was the perfect style for what I wanted and I got the perfect tattoo from a recommendation.
Paula Castle pin up tattoo
By Paula Castle, based in Swansea 

Guest Spots

So you’ve found the artist of your dreams but they are the other side of the country and travelling for hours isn’t going to work for you. Most artist do guest spots at other studios, so follow their personal Instagram and keep an eye out for when they announce dates. Due to guest spots I was able to get tattooed by Holly, who is normally in Norwich, which I just couldn’t justify travelling to and get my chubba done in Daventry. For my nightmare before Christmas piece Angharad was doing a guest spot in Malvern which meant I could get an earlier date with her.
Hollie West chubba tattoo
By Hollie West, who is based in Norwich 

By Angharad Chappelle who is based in Birmingham


Another great way to get to an artist that isn’t local is tattoo conventions, there are many all other the country and here is a calendar of them all. Again, artists will post when they are booking for these so keep an eye out. Just note that some will be entering competitions and will only want to do tattoos that they can enter and will be in their style, so they might say no to your idea, this isn’t personal. I was able to get tattooed by Holly May at the Cardiff Tattoo convention.
Hollie May dog tattoo
By Hollie May, who is based in Leek

A final point….

Listen to the artist

Sometimes they will just say no to what you want done as it isn’t for them. Sometimes they will offer advice on size and placement. Some tattooist won’t tattoo hands or above the neck. I know one of their bugbears is people who show a tiny image from somewhere like pinterst and want it that actual size. To get a certain amount of detail in and for it to last for years to come, it does need to be a certain size, and they will advise of this.

For example, I had planned for this tattoo to be on my thigh, but once I got to the studio and Keely saw the space, she advised my lower leg would be much better, I trusted her judgement and she was right. 
Keely Rutherford kawaii food tattoo
By Keely Rutherford, based in London
At the end of the day, you are a walking advert for them and they want their work to look great, they won’t comprise their artistic integrity for you.  Basically, I’m saying you need to be flexible on some things and don’t take it personally, they are the experts.

Also if you want to use a numbing cream, ask the artist how they feel about this, as some won’t work on you as they say it affects the skin, others are fine with it, so best to ask.

Becky x
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